[Dave Birch] My unrelenting propaganda campaign against cash obtained new impetus last week when a correspondent (oh alright, Tony Pickup from Consult Hyperion) wrote to add another line to the charge sheet. He said:

This week I went to Stockholm to give a talk on contactless cards for [one of the major schemes]. So I thought in case I am out and about I will take a hundred pound in Kroner. So I went to the Post office and received 850 Kroner for just under 101 pounds (100.95). I used cash as I have been caught out by the scheme charges to buy cash over the counter.

I visited this fine city but due to work commitments had to spend much of the time in the Hotel. I did not spend any of the cash as the Taxis took chip and PIN and took it really well,a fantastic experience over the London cab experiences of devices not connected and driver apathy.

So I returned the cash unused and received just over 81 pounds in return (81.42). So to have access to one hundred pounds available for a week it has cost me over £19 (19.53) and you thought Wonga was expensive.

While Tony was in Sweden, I was in the Netherlands. No need to use cash there at all and no problem using cards, except that the machines that add value to the OV-ChipKaart at the airport don’t accept Visa or MasterCard, so you have to go queue up and load it at the counter. A minor inconvenience. I have a suspicion, in line with my general thoughts about balkanisation in the payments sector, that cross-border interoperability might soon be a specific, rather than general, property of payments!

In Canada, I can use my US dollar-funded Starbucks card and Starbucks would handle the foreign exchange from Canadian dollars and bill my US Starbucks account. In Canada I was told my card would work in many countries.

[From Celent Banking Blog » A new global payment brand]

I can vouch for this. But back to those unfortunates trapped in the cash economy. Tony’s experience is well articulated but far from unique. The horrible dead weight of cash drags on every corner of our great nation, but there is a specific problem with foreign currency.

British homes are harbouring over £1.6bn of leftover holiday money… In a poll of 1,100 British travellers, the average haul of foreign notes and coins amounted to £54 per person in currencies ranging from Cypriot Pounds to Thai Baht.

[From Holidaymakers have £54 each in leftover foreign cash – Telegraph]

I must advise our British readers, by the way, that if they do come back from Europe with leftover euros, they should make sure that they are not in the form of either 200 or 500 euro notes. The BBC MoneyBox Live programme this weekend had a package on just how difficult it is to offload these suspicious tokens. The programme quoted the police as saying that one of ten of the bin Laden‘s is in the hands of criminals, surely an underestimate.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers


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